By Eric Wright
When I was a kid, there was an absurd TV comedy called Green Acres. Eddie Albert starred as Oliver Wendell Douglas, a successful New York attorney who had an irresistible attraction to “farm livin’.” Eva Gabor, who played his glamorous socialite wife, is unwillingly dragged from their Manhattan penthouse to a ramshackle farm where he pursues his agrarian dreams. The show would open with Albert pulling out the drawer of his executive suite desk to look at the seedlings he was nurturing in secret and end with he and Gabor striking a pose in parody of Grant Wood’s painting “American Gothic.”
For many, the lure of entrepreneurialism holds the same attraction. Men and women who have spent years preparing to be airline pilots or physicians, hear the siren song playing and they can’t resist the call of the wild, “Entrepreneurialism is the life for me, risk and reward is where I’d rather be…” Lately, however, it isn’t just the individual who leaves the safety and security of their well-entrenched career; it’s also CEOs and educators who realize the creative, visionary and “why not?” attitude of an entrepreneur is the only thing that will keep their organization on the leading edge.
Having carefully examined the entrepreneurial psyche for years in the mirror and with some of the most successful examples in our region, there are some common traits I have found among them, aside from often being ADHD:
• You may be an entrepreneur if…you’re more excited about the next deal, a new product or promising initiative than you are about who is going to be in the next Super Bowl (unless you happen to own one of the teams). It is the passion of the pursuit, the thrill of the hunt, that entrepreneurs love – not so much the accoutrements of success that people see, like cars or homes.
• You may be an entrepreneur if…bureaucratic logjams and indecision are more loathsome than a root canal. Mind you, entrepreneurs are all about due diligence, mining available data and building replicable processes, but what sends them into orbit is when a decision has to be made, but there is too much risk or adversity to make it.
• You may be an entrepreneur if…you love to celebrate people’s achievements and admire the tokens and symbols of success others have. However, you also believe that giving a trophy to everyone makes earning a trophy meaningless.
• You may be an entrepreneur if…the possibility of failure doesn’t scare you nearly as much as the thought of doing nothing. Perhaps this is the biggest differentiator; to not try is the anathema to entrepreneurs’ not trying and failing.
• You may be an entrepreneur if…your most important life lessons, even the painful ones, are always public domain. Entrepreneurs love to learn and therefore they also love to feed that hunger for knowledge in others.
• You may be an entrepreneur if…you’re audacious enough to believe that in some way, you can change the world. We all need a sense of purpose and a belief that our life really matters, but entrepreneurs combine that with (what some view as egomania) a conviction that they will not leave this world the way they found it, that they can push back the limits, that they can change the paradigm, that critical mass is only actions away.